Former Northants man discusses his transfer into financial services.

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Former Northamptonshire man Rob Newton has spoken to the PCA about his experience of recently moving from cricket into his new role as a trainee auditor.

The 30-year-old was released by Northants in the summer after more than a decade of service at Wantage Road, but has quickly put together the pieces to build a new career in financial services, beginning with his entry-level role at global accounting firm Mazars which started in September.

Though Newton’s passion for the game still burns bright, he admits that the Covid-19 pandemic has made certain decisions easier and is now reaping the rewards of preparing in advance for life after cricket.

PCA Lead Personal Development Manager Charlie Mulraine spoke to Newton to hear his thoughts on leaving the game, starting afresh in the middle of the pandemic and what his ambitions are for the future…

  • What are you doing at Mazars at the moment?
  • My role is Corporate Assistant, which is intended to be as broad a description as possible. Effectively I’m a trainee auditor, so I’m doing about three and a half years of higher apprenticeship, studying for the ACA (Associate Chartered Accountant qualification) to become a chartered accountant at the same time as working full time in audit in Milton Keynes.
  • Have you eased into the working world despite the circumstances?
  • It’s only been a couple of months, so I haven’t had much time, but it’s something I’ve been prepared for for a few years. I’ve found a lot of enjoyment from taking on that new challenge. The weeks have gone quickly and I haven’t thought too much about cricket – the only time I’ve picked up a bat this summer was to give it to a mate and I haven’t hit a ball since the tour of Singapore at the beginning of March. It’s been a pretty full on and intense few months – those tend to go quite quickly. The studying element has brought quite a lot of work with it as well so there hasn’t been too much time to stop and get bored.
  • What sort of things have you tried in the past few years and how have you got to this point?
  • I always felt that I wanted to have a proper second career with lots of progression and lots of things to aim for. In my head I think I was always fairly sure it was going to be something like financial services or professional services. About three years ago I started an investment course and I didn’t really enjoy it or find it overly interesting, so I was back to square one. I had to think about what I actually found interesting. It was more analysis-based and, whilst I did still want to spend time with clients, I’d never really fancied going down the sales route which is possibly a more natural fit for someone coming from professional sport. I was always more interested in being the person who’s one step back from that. With that in mind, this summer I worked through lockdown and became qualified in one methodology of project management.
  • Did you do that course with the knowledge that you’d use it in the finance world?
  • Project management covers just about everything. You’ll find a project management angle in just about any role, maybe not the junior roles but definitely as soon as you get towards the senior ones. There’s a lot of crossover. I didn’t want to do something that restricted me too much, so that was before I got the role at Mazars and whilst I was applying for similar things. So having that base qualification has worked out quite nicely for me. It’s not something I’m using very much but in the next two or three years it will be something that I can come back to and will be really helpful.
  • You moved into the job pretty quickly after being released by Northants. What sort of thought process did you go through at the time?
  • I’d already started looking and applying for various things, in particular higher apprenticeships rather than straight jobs as there’s more finality with those. I applied for a few different professional services places and a couple of slightly different things. I was late in the year so some of them had already filled all of the positions. I got through to final interviews for two and didn’t get one but did get the other. I left it fairly late but the opportunity was too good to think about doing another year of cricket. I’ve got a young family so waiting until April never really crossed my mind as a viable option.
  • It sounds like you’d have had to have been offered something really long term for that decision to be harder?
  • Definitely. I’ve done 10 or 11 years professionally and for most of that I’ve either been playing a lot or been injured. In terms of individual goals, cricket didn’t have that much left for me in terms of what I felt was achievable. As much as I enjoy playing and the travel and all that kind of stuff, it’s never been my be all and end all. I’ve always enjoyed learning and the pandemic made certain choices easier for me. I think it’s too early to reflect on it too much but what I’m hoping is that in a few years I’ll feel that it was the right time and it certainly feels that way now. Hopefully that feeling will continue.
  • When you got this opportunity, it just sounded like it was something that was too good to turn down.
  • There’s about 160 of us across the country at Mazars, and I think there were 29,000 applications across the scheme. It’s one of those things where in the short term I’m going to be financially worse off and I’ll have to be careful for a couple of years, but then the opportunity to be a chartered accountant at 33 rather than picking up my paycheck for a few more years and then finding myself nearly 40 was too good to turn down. As long as I work hard and do everything well, I should be in a really good position moving forward.
  • On the financial side of things, did you put things in place for when the end came?
  • I own a house, so I have plenty of equity in that to fall back on if the worst should happen. In the past few years I’ve also become a bit better at saving money. With all the travel you do as a cricketer you do leak money, but that won’t happen any more as working full-time is a totally different life.
  • How much interest did employers show in the fact that you were a professional cricketer?
  • With the interview process, it is a good conversation starter, but with a lot of finance jobs and jobs where there are X amount of people applying, the questions tend to be standard. It’s important to create rapport, and cricket’s good for that in terms of trying to talk confidently with people, but a lot of the time everyone gets the eight same questions and it is scenario-based.
  • However, having life experiences and working out those transferable skills which you can get into your interview is so important. I’ve never looked at a set of accounts in my life, but I’m hard-working and willing to learn. There are a lot of intangibles that I think a lot of employers want now. Auditing a company can be taught, but there are some things you can’t teach and it is totally based on your experiences.
  • I would encourage guys to do things within and outside of cricket that would help with that, whether it’s meeting sponsors or whatever else. The things that you did at 21, by the time you’re 28 you see those things as opportunities, so you need to jump into them. Those things must have helped me get the job because it certainly wasn’t knowing how to do accounting that got it for me.
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